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New Erie County Sheriff Takes Office

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – A new leader is now in charge of the Erie County Sheriff's Department in the midst of the County budget crisis.

Former Under Sheriff Timothy Howard took the oath of office Thursday as interim sheriff, promising to maintain protection for citizens.

Members of the sheriff's department, state police, judges, leaders of the local republican party and family and friends packed a ceremonial courtroom at Erie County Hall.

They watched Timothy Howard as he was sworn in as sheriff, replacing Patrick Gallivan.

Erie County Court Judge Sheila Ditullio administered the oath.

Howard has worked in law enforcement for 33 years. For the last eight years he has served under Gallivan.

Last month, Gallivan decided not to seek re-election. Instead, he accepted an appointment from Governor George Pataki to the state's Parole Board.

Gallivan is exiting in the middle of the county's fiscal crisis that has threatened vital services within the sheriff's department.

But Gallivan said he couldn't turn down the opportunity. However, he admits he's leaving with a sense of unfinished business.

"I am somewhat disturbed about the actions of some people who are purportedly suppose to be acting on behalf of the citizens," said Gallivan. "But, I leave with knowledge and comfort that the sheriff's office is in good hands under the leadership of Tim Howard."

Howard said the department will not be compromised by the budget crisis. He said he will continue to fight to keep sheriff road patrols which have been threatened by funding cuts.

The sheriff's department provides police protection for 15 of the 25 towns in the county.

"I recognize the importance of our presence in all those communities. The issue of funding is really left with other elected officials," said Howard. "But, we need to talk with them, be open and to be flexible to anything we might try to do to be creative and think about other possibilities for funding."

He added, "But really the funding issue belongs to other officials. I must maintain enough resources to provide those services and that is the main task I face as Sheriff."

Howard is the endorsed republican candidate for the sheriff's race this November.

Former Buffalo Homicide Chief Charles Fieramusca is the democratic candidate.

Howard also announced that he is naming Richard Donovan, former Buffalo Police Commissioner, to serve as Under Sheriff.